B. D. Johnson April 30, 2014 11:11 AM

Some of the applications for the data they were talking about (the general conference once) reminds me of a conference I went to a decade or so ago. It was a week-long conference and there was a card in the back to be mailed in separately (with no name or identifier on it) where there were check boxes for medical issues such as diabetes, pregnancy, hypertension, cardiac history, and such. I asked and it turns out that got passed to Security so they could anticipate and stock up if there was a higher-than-usual need for specific medical supplies. When I got there I went and asked if they actually used it and it turns out that, because of a high rate of people who reported prior cardiac history, they had an AED on every floor for the week instead of just one for the building.

Jim April 30, 2014 3:39 PM

I would be the first one to add cell phone or wifi sensors to each stall to make each “recorded observation” traceable to an individual/device.

Daniel April 30, 2014 5:32 PM

What bothers me is the enculturation aspects. To almost everyone reading this blog the issues have some relief because they stand out compared to what we grew up with. But kids being born today, their minds will develop in a culture where this type of wide ranging penetration by the public into the once private is the “new normal” in the same way the internet is the new normal for us.

What I struggle with is not the notion that privacy is dead but the doubt that in fifty years anyone will care. In the future people will no more care about their pee being analyzed by total strangers than most people today would be bothered by having to show an ID to the police.

Chris Abbott April 30, 2014 7:56 PM


In many aspects, we’re already there. I know couples that are friends of mine, and others upload amateur porn of themselves on the Internet and share with various people nonchalantly, people put everything about themselves and what they did that day and other personal info about themselves all over Twitter and Facebook, and do many other things that would have been utterly unthinkable 20 years ago, so unthinkable that nobody ever thought such a thing would happen. A girl I’m friends with was talking with me about the NSA once. She said she really had no problem with the NSA going through her stuff because she shares most of it anyway and thinks that if it’s for national security it’s ok. A guy I’m friends with that I had the same conversation said that the surveillance wasn’t his favorite thing in life, but that it was inevitable and that he could get over it, a completely defeatist attitude, the new normal.

Chris Abbott April 30, 2014 8:01 PM

And the problem is choice and control. I have no problem with people that don’t mind sharing everything in the world. What I do care about is that the surveillance we’re learning about takes away the choice of what to share and the control you have over your information. It’s fine if people want to share everything, no matter how personal, but ONLY if it’s THEIR CHOICE and they have control over that information, regardless of what it is. I hope people don’t become desensitized to losing the choice and control of what they share. That’s the message we need to drive into people…

Rense May 1, 2014 3:17 AM

This reminds me of TOILSEC, see for example:

The White House flew in a special portable toilet to Vienna for Bush’s personal use during his visit. The Bush White House is so concerned about Bush’s security, the veil of secrecy extends over the president’s bodily excretions.
The Israeli Mossad conducted one such operation against Syrian President Hafez Assad when he visited Amman, Jordan in Feb. 1999 for the funeral of King Hussein. The Mossad and its Jordanian counterpart installed a special toilet in Assad’s hotel room that led not to a pipe but to a specimen canister.

MarkMc May 1, 2014 12:48 PM

Not so far-fetched – Japanese toilet manufacturer Toto’s
Intelligence Toilet from a few years back performed urinalysis, measured blood pressure and BMI, and uploaded to your computer or friendly local physician.

waki May 2, 2014 11:13 AM

Chris Abbot:
” that the surveillance wasn’t his favorite thing in life, but that it was inevitable and that he could get over it, a completely defeatist attitude, the new normal. ”

What he could do anyway. Fighting this bedamned surveillance and control machine looks similar to fighting a proverbial hydra – hack away one of its heads and there are three new of them looming over you.
On the gloomiest days of mine I even think of suicide as the only solution to this – if you cannot change the world, change yourself – and I cannot really come to terms with not giving a damn about all this stuff and ‘nothing to hide’ notions.

It would be interesting to know what Ted Kaczynski thinks about the modern day situation.

075 May 3, 2014 1:37 PM

Waki I suspect that if properly informed Ted Kaczynski might regret doing anything at all considering how the NSA has now done more for his cause against computers than he could ever have achieved even if he had a million strong army of followers.

The question is: does the surveillance survive the fall or does it go down with everything else?

Historically the systems go down in flames along with the rest and for a short while (at most for 25 years it seems) enough of those in power remember and comprehend how stupid it was; that it is suicidal and that it must be guarded against. But we might not be so lucky this time, the US is a failed federation without actual popular support (and thus without legitimate authority) where it matters (single-digit approval rating for a decade or so) yet the surveillance increases.

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